Tech moves fast! Stay ahead of the curve with Techopedia!
Join nearly 200,000 subscribers who receive actionable tech insights from Techopedia.
Virtual reality refers to computer-generated environments or realities that are designed to simulate a person’s physical presence in a specific environment that is designed to feel real. The purpose of VR is to allow a person to experience and manipulate the environment as if it were the real world. The best virtual realities are able to immerse the user completely. Virtual reality should not be confused with simple 3-D environments like those found in computer games, where you get to experience and manipulate the environment through an avatar, rather than personally becoming part of the virtual world.
There is no concrete definition of what a virtual reality experience entails, so opinions differ depending on the field in question and the mode used to achieve virtual reality. That said, virtual reality does follow a few accepted guidelines.
The environment must be made up of images that appear life-sized according to the perspective of the user/viewer unless the desired effect deviates from this.
The system responsible for running the virtual environment must be able to track the user’s motions, especially the eye and head movements, so that it can react and change the images on the display or initiate any related events.
In order to immerse the user fully, Jonathan Steuer, a Ph.D. in communication theory and research, proposed two components.
Depth of Information: Refers to the quality and amount of data the user is fed by the virtual environment itself. This could be achieved through the display resolution, graphics quality and complexity of the environment, sound quality, haptic feedback and the like.
Breadth of Information: Refers to how many senses are being stimulated by the virtual environment. The most basic of these should be audio and visual, while the most advanced systems should include stimulation of all five senses in order to enhance immersion.